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A1C Keltee
Airman 1st Class Sage Keltee, an air traffic controller with the 71st Operations Support Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., has been selected for direct appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Frank Casciotta)
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Vance air traffic controller selected for direct appointment to academy

Posted 2/6/2013   Updated 2/7/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Frank Casciotta
71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

2/6/2013 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Approximately 2 percent of enlisted Airmen who apply to the U.S. Air Force Academy are selected each year for direct appointment, and one of the air traffic controllers here is among them.

Airman 1st Class Sage Keltee, with the 71st Operations Support Squadron, will be leaving for the academy in June.

"I heard about the commissioning program for the U.S. Air Force Academy in June after my First Term Airmen's Center briefing," said Keltee. "I went to the education office and started the process."

It took five months and a team of NCOs to help Keltee achieve his goal to make it to the academy.

"Being selected for direct admission requires an extensive selection process," said Patty Edmond with the admissions office at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo. "We assess their physical, academic and leadership potential through a series of background information and tests," said Edmond. "We want to ensure that they will be successful, which is why so many go to the prep school first."

"His motivation and drive to accomplish goals is what motivates me to do what I do today," said Master Sgt. Jason Trickey, the assistant chief controller with the radar approach control in the 71st OSS. "He did all the work. I just helped him make sure his essays were formatted properly."

Applying for the academy requires a significant amount of dedication and commitment which results in only a few Airmen applying. But Keltee was not deterred.

"He's the only active duty Airman who has been accepted into this program in the past two years across the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Chris Callaghan, the commander of the 71st OSS.

"I heard they don't normally have spots filled, so I knew if I worked hard I would have a chance," said Keltee, from Cambridge, Ohio. "I had to take the ACT four times before I was satisfied with my score."

"I'm proud of what he accomplished," said Callaghan. "Frankly, I think most people look at the process, because it's so extensive, and say 'that's a hill too steep.' But he took the time to test and retest to make himself competitive."

"I remember it was toward the end of the day last Thursday (Jan. 31) and our commander came in and called everyone into the break room," said Keltee. "He came up to me and I was ecstatic because he told me I was accepted into the academy directly, instead of having to go through the prep-school."

"As a commander it was a rewarding experience to be the one to deliver the news to him," said Callaghan.

After he graduates from the academy, Keltee would like to be a pilot or an engineer.

"The opportunities are here," said Keltee. "You can definitely do it if you try."

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